By: Dave Kerpen
The co-founder of Likeable Media explains how the company’s culture has contributed to its five-year catapult to $5 million in annual sales.
Over the last five years, I had the good fortune to lead the expansion at Likeable Media. I’m proud of the fact that Likeable made the Inc. 500 twice, as the company grew from $100,000 in revenue to more than $5 million in our first five years. But I’m even prouder that this year Crain’s New York Business named Likeable the 28th best place to work in New York.
I believe Likeable’s success can be explained more by the company culture than strategies. Happier employees lead to much higher employee retention rates (which are notoriously low in marketing services); that, in turn, keeps clients more content, and signed up longer.
Here are five aspects of Likeable’s culture that I know contributed directly to the company’s hyper growth:
The Likeable team and I developed “forums” to allow employees at every level to contribute to company-wide decisions. The forums each have a focus: philanthropy, marketing, office culture, health and wellness, and social events. Every employee is on a forum, and each forum meets weekly on company time. My co-founder (my wife, Carrie Kerpen) and I also recently gave all of our employees 12% of the company in an options plan, so now literally everyone has a stake in Likeable’s success.
We encourage every employee to write for Likeable’s daily company blog, and each month we award a blog-of-the month bonus to an employee who wrote an exceptional post. As an incentive to write thoughtful and engaging blog posts and encourage thought leadership, we also created bonus opportunities for employees who reach certain milestones in pageviews and shares. (It’s certainly useful that we can promote the very service Likeable sells–social media–among employees.)
We hold weekly all-staff huddles. These meetings give the management team and me an opportunity to inform all employees of new Likeable activities and initiatives, discuss firm development and improvement, and recognize employees for outstanding achievement and effort. Once a month, I also host Pandora’s Box, an anonymous forum for all employees to ask any questions of management at the team huddle.
Likeable’s offices have open floor plans and glass walls, allowing for seamless collaboration and open communication. Every employee knows where the company stands financially and where it’s headed. The strategic and business plan is blown up and hung on the wall in offices in New York and Boston; everyone can see quarterly priorities, one-year projections, and a three-to-five year plan.
We try to make Likeable a place people love to come to work each day, full of surprises and delights. It’s a Likeable tradition to prompt celebrities to tweet employees happy birthday wishes. Everyone tweets to a particular celebrity the day of a co-worker’s birthday. Adam Levine, Adrian Grenier, Michael Ian Black, and Richard Simmons are among those who have obliged with a Happy Birthday tweet.
For the last three years, at our holiday party, I’ve also loved hosting Dave’s Favorite Things, an annual takeoff of Oprah’s trademark holiday giveaways. The company’s gifts to all employees have included a cruise to the Bahamas, weekend in Miami, trip to Atlantic City, Mets tickets, Amazon Kindles, and Donors Choose gift cards.